Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau Fires Back at Becky Hammon’s Jalen Brunson Criticism

Tom Thibodeau, Jalen Brunson, Knicks

Getty Head Coach Tom Thibodeau and Jalen Brunson #11 of the New York Knicks looks on.

New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau defended his star point guard Jalen Brunson over Becky Hammon’s criticism that “he’s too small” to win in the big men-dominated NBA.

“They’re paid for their opinions, so it’s just a bunch of chatter. The only thing that matters is what we think,” Thibodeau said via New York Daily News’ Kristian Winfield.

Brunson, a former second-round pick, continues to defy the odds, notching another level in his game. The 6-foot-2 burly point guard is averaging career highs in scoring (25.3), rebounds (4.0), steals (1.1) and 3-point shooting (46%) while leading the Knicks to a 16-11 start.

“Anyone who doubts him doesn’t really know him,” Thibodeau added, via The Athletic’s Fred Katz.

Hammon’s comment about Brunson came after she was asked on the December 21 episode of the “NBA Today” if the Knicks can crack the elite tier in the Eastern Conference.

“They’re not getting into that tier,” Hammon said. “They don’t have enough personnel. They don’t have the manpower that they need to hang with those guys.”

“I think you’re going to get a consistent team like they’ve been a pretty good team. They’re well-coached. They’re going to be on their defensive game but at the end of the day, they don’t have a dude. You got to have a dude — a 1A dude and they’re missing that.”

History Is on Becky Hammon’s Side

Stephen Curry is the last small guard to lead a team to an NBA championship since Isiah Thomas was at the forefront of the “Bad Boys” Detroit Pistons championship runs in 1989 and 1990.

Chauncey Billups and Jason Kidd were the other small guards in between Curry and Thomas who sipped an NBA championship but they were not the clear-cut 1A stars of their teams, unlike Curry and Thomas.

“My philosophy, if your best player is small, you’re not winning [championships],” Hammon said. “I’m saying this [about Brunson] as a small person. This is a game that [favors] the big and bold. It favors that god-given gift and I love Jalen Brunson but are you going to put him on the level of a 1A, are you putting him with Giannis [Antetokounmpo]?”

Kevin Durant Predicts Hall of Fame Career for Jalen Brunson

With or without a championship, Phoenix Suns superstar Kevin Durant believes Brunson will be a Hall of Famer after dropping 50 points on his team on December 15.

“That’s his franchise,” Durant said of Brunson via New York Post. “And he’s going to be a Hall of Fame player by the end of his career the way he’s playing out there.”

“If he keeps this up, he’s on a great pace to do that. They all support him. They put in sets for him, they ran plays for him. When he gets hot, they continue to get him the ball,” Durant said. “So tonight is one of those nights for him.”

Brunson became the only player in NBA history to score 50 points and went 9 of 9 from 3. He is also the first Knicks player ever to score 50 points while making nine 3s and the first player to go 8-for-8 on 3-pointers in a half in NBA history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.